The other side

You had an editorial June 17 entitled, “Class-action legal system needs to be reined in somewhat.”

Please allow me to provide the facts.

The Supreme Court of the United States is not considering a case involving class-action settlements, lawyers’ fees or washing machines. The Supreme Court vacated and remanded a lower court’s decision in Sears, Roebuck & Co. v. Butler, which was a class-action involving environmental friendly front-loading washing machines.

Class-actions were officially approved by the Supreme Court Rules Committee in 1938. The purposes of class-actions are to make litigation more efficient and less expensive. Class actions work very well in that respect.

If individual consumers had to bring their own cases, no one would ever be able to sue over a $500.00 or $1,000.00 washing machine. Needless to say irresponsible industry would be delighted to eliminate all consumer lawsuits. Class-actions provide a means and mechanism for similar claims to be brought together so as to make the process more efficient and less expensive. It is the goal of the law since 1938 to enable consumers’ access to the courts at a cost which is reasonable.

Class-action lawsuits are extremely tightly controlled by the courts. I have handled class-action lawsuits and I can testify to the fact that there is no other type of litigation or business enterprise in this country which is subject to as many checks and balances. The courts in class-actions not only have a right to regulate who can bring the claims and who the class representatives are but they also must approve of any attorney’s fees and even return of costs to the lawyers.

It is much more difficult to bring class-actions today and industry now has a much easier time getting those suits placed in federal court where they believe they will receive a more friendly reception.

Unfortunately, groups like the Business Round Table are the ones who seek to fatten the bellies of their members rather than answering the legitimate complaints of their customers.

Cliff Rieders


Submitted by E-Mail